Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is Friendship, Anyway?

Lots swirling about in my head today. I should be cleaning. I've got laundry in and the dishwasher is half full. I've got a cup of tea by my side. My mom will be here soon. But lots of inklings of things going on around me that keep nagging at me. Friendship. On my post about Talents, Alix commented that her talent is being a great friend. How do you define yourself as a great friend? I have many people in my life that I am friendly with. Aside from Jeff, I have 2 people that I am especially close to. And only one of them really fully qualifies as a true "friend." Or is that true? One friend is someone I've known since college. We've had ups and downs. Well, a huge down that ended up bringing us closer than ever. And now it's like we are more spiritual best friends. I know him immensely well. I know his core. He lives far away so he isn't part of my everyday. But I know his insides and he knows mine. One phone call and there isn't even a need for a lot of words... we just know. One friend is part of my daily life. I tell her practically everything. She knows me inside and out. She is a huge part of my kids' lives. She is dependable and loyal and consistent. I can call on her in times of crisis or joy and she will comfort or celebrate as needed and then some. So how do you define friendship? What kind of friend are you? Friend, as defined by dictionary.com, is "a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard." Well that certainly doesn't make it sound as serious as what I seem to expect of my friends. A friend is simply someone I feel attached to because I like them, basically. But my expectations of friendship are so much more vast than that! I think we need a better word than friend. I joke that Christy is more like a sister to me... but it isn't really much of a joke. Because she really is more than a friend, especially if you consider the definition above. Maybe it would be better to define "family?" Most of the definitions are focused on blood relations, on parents and children. And then I fell upon definition #10. a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together So Christy doesn't live with us. But we do share common attitudes, interests, and goals. Jim doesn't live near us but we do share common attitudes, interests, and goals. What's missing? Values. Common values. I value loyalty, compassion, honesty, sense of humor, reliability, trustworthiness. When Jeff and I first got pregnant, we lost that baby to a miscarriage. It was one of the defining tragedies of our marriage and it happened just months after our wedding. Jim was living in Nashville at the time and when I called to tell him, he dropped everything, rearranged his life, and drove straight here to be with us for those early days. Reliability. Compassion. Loyalty. Christy is the only person that I trust to watch my kids so Jeff and I can have a date night. When we just need a couple of hours away on a weekend, which isn't often, Christy is the only one I call. Reliability. Trustworthiness. She's also the friend who convinces me to let loose, get out of the house sometimes, lets me know that my messy house is totally ok... Sense of Humor. Honesty. I am blessed to have these 2 people in my life. They fulfill different parts of me. Perhaps because those friendships are so amazing, it isn't possible for others to meet the expectations? the bar has been set too high? But I still expect things from people. I still expect people who choose to call themselves friends to follow through on promises, commitments, plans. Reliability. Honesty. Trustworthiness. Remember? But I still cling to this hope that the people I like, the people I have interest in, will meet those expectations and become something beyond the simple definition of friend. But I find that I tend to wind up disappointed. And what kind of friend am I? I think I give what I get. I think I live those important values in my friendships. I think that Jim and Christy would agree with all I've said. I don't feel that I brush off my friends. I don't feel that I'm someone to cancel plans or not mean the things I say. I keep confidences. I'm loyal. Reliable. Funny. Fun. Passionate and Compassionate. What kind of friend are you? Do you rely on friends to be more than the simple definition? Do you strive to be more of the family type of friend?


Boozy Tooth said...

Oh Liz... what an inspiring, sweet and thought-provoking post. You hit the nail on the head of friendship lady. Like you, I am the "whatever it takes" kind of friend. We're a rare breed, unfortunately. It's not always as easy to find the same kind of friend in return, but I think it's infinitely more important to BE the kind of friend you'd like to have rather than expecting everone else to measure up. Friendship is a hard-core business - and anyone who has someone they call friend, is lucky indeed.

Garret said...

Unfortunately I woke up too recently to get so deep. After reading your entry and Casa Hice, it would seem everyone is getting sappy. I have 5 more blogs to read and am wondering if it's a trend for today. :) All of it is so thought provoking.

To me there's aquaintances, friends, best friends. These categories seem to earn their labels based on feelings for that person. How you click together. Sometimes you let somethings slide, like dependability, because the other characteristics well exceed the short comings. I've only had 1 cup of coffee and very groggy so I hope I make sense. Anyway, best friends to me are my soul mates that didn't make the cut because of their sex, age, or some other trait. Thing about it, these people you are so close to, couldn't you see yourself being with them day and night? The sexual part is missing, maybe the attraction, maybe being the wrong sex, but other than that they're your soul mate. Time for my second cup of coffee. I think what I've already typed makes be think, "what is he saying?" ARGH


Mary Ellen said...

Wow. Deep subject today! I think friend is something that can be defined in a bunch of ways. I have friends who are there in a specific compartment of my life, and some who are there for everything. I guess I think people come into your life for a reason, and some stay a while, and some stay forever. I'm grateful for them all.

Lisa said...

What a timely post. I've been thinking a lot about friendships and wanting to post about my thoughts. Soon.